GPRC Inspires Indigenous Leadership Facilitator
Thursday, April 2nd, 2020
Brian Calliou’s lifelong learning journey began at GPRC. It was there that he caught “the academic bug.”
That was 32 years ago. Today, researching, writing and publishing are part of his daily life and his love for learning has never waned.
Calliou is the first in his immediate family to pursue a degree. He’s earned a Master’s in law, is an author, a prominent advocate and international speaker on Indigenous issues and culture, as well as director of Indigenous Leadership at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Calliou is the 2020 recipient of the Alumni Award of Excellence. The award recognizes specific, recent accomplishments that are of local, national or international honours or major championships.
His wife Dr. Cora Voyageur, a GPRC alumna, is also an award recipient having been honoured with GPRC’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004.
Calliou is humbled for this recognition twice in his family. He credits his wife and their ability to work together in raising their two children while also earning undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Originally from Sucker Creek First Nation near High Prairie, Calliou was a certified journeyman plumber and pipefitter who developed a big dream of higher learning.
“It was a miserable winter once and I kept freezing my fingers and toes. I kept thinking I’d like to go back to school and do something different.”
GPRC’s small campus-appeal enticed Calliou and his wife to attend from 1986 to 1988.
Calliou intended to enter law school after his second year of undergrad and then into employment, but professor Scott McAlpine advised he finish his undergrad degree first, or to earn the full honours degree to set himself up for a master’s program should his plans change.
“Scott was a huge influence of mine,” he reflects. “He really turned me on to an academic frame of mind.”
Calliou followed this guidance and completed a Bachelor of Arts and then a Master’s degree, both from the University of Alberta. He now has applied to pursue a PhD in law and society.
He plans to use his new knowledge to support his work at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. There he develops programs and training that “help Indigenous leaders build their professional capacities so they can lead their communities through positive change.”
Leaders learn how to move into their inherent right to self-governance, including drawing on Indigenous wisdom, values and culture to develop stable communities, economies and businesses.
Calliou is grateful for this work with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
“I’ve been very lucky to have support, resources and sponsorship. I love my job for the impact it has on community leaders. I get to research, write and share about research supporting that work.”
Still bitten by the academic bug, Calliou advocates for dreaming big.
“Lifelong learning is so important to lead others. Modern tools and knowledge can assist us in dreaming big when it is built on the foundation of learning from our Elders and the old wisdoms. Together, they can help us lead a good life as a good human being, and have good relations with each other, the land and nature.
“We can really do anything. You can have as big of dreams as anybody else in the world."
Calliou is honoured and humbled that the college has recognized his work.
“I really appreciate what GPRC did for me as I started on this journey.”
Read more about the 2020 President's Award Luncheon here.